50 Years After the Start of the Occupation, the “Two-State Solution” Is Dead, Says Halper

  The Markaz ReviewBy Lauren Marcus Jeff Halper, author of War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification, is widely considered an icon in progressive circles. Once head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, he has been a voice against the Occupation for years. Halper grew up in Minnesota and has been living in Israel since 1973. The Israeli-American anthropologist spoke June 4th at the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeiter Ring, a Jewish Socialist center in Los Angeles, to a left-leaning crowd eager to hear his ideas for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was a guest of LA Jews for Peace and The Markaz. Continue reading

A Palestinian and a Jew Meet, Laugh at Each Other’s Jokes and Marry

  Jess Salomon & Eman El Husseini celebrate at their wedding party in Montreal.   [Editor’s Note: Stand-up comedians Eman El Husseini and Jess Salomon were presented by The Markaz in L.A. at the Pico Union Project, with comedian Noël Elgrably opening, on 3/26/2017.] By Lauren MarcusBorn in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, comedian Eman El-Husseini visited Israel only once, to perform at a comedy festival in the Palestinian territories. “In Israel, they loved me so much,” she said. “They loved me so much that they kept me at the airport for three hours.” Continue reading

From L.A. to Baghdad: American Artists Remember Al-Mutanabbi Street

Dima Hilal at Chevalier's [photo: Junichi Semitsu] By Lauren Marcus On Sunday, March 5th, we filed quietly into Chevalier’s in Los Angeles, the book lover’s emporium founded in 1940 that occupies a modest storefront on Larchmont Boulevard. On the same day, similar commemoration events were being held for Baghdad’s famed Al-Mutanabbi Street in more than 25 additional locations around the United States and across the world. Continue reading

Muslim American Artists and Activists Cope with Trump’s Dystopian Reality

Following the travel ban, a constitutional confrontation between federal judges and the White House continues while Muslims regroup. The Markaz talks to key figures across the country. an abbreviated version of this article appears in the Feb. 16, 2017 edition of The National (Abu Dhabi). By Jordan Elgrably02/16/2017 Since President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, it’s never been harder to be Arab- or Muslim-American. Amidst executive orders targeting Muslims, women’s rights and other issues dear to Democratic values, daily protests and warring words between the Trump camp and opponents have put Muslim Americans in the spotlight. While Washington State federal judge James Robart has managed to temporarily block Trump’s controversial executive order barring immigrant entry from seven Muslim countries, Muslim respondents we spoke to remain apprehensive. Continue reading

Conflict and the Search for Common Ground

a meditation on the importance of dialogue  By Jordan Elgrably  How we deal with conflict shapes many of our relationships. Nearly all relationships experience conflict at one time or another, and some of us have an almost daily diet of conflict, depending on our job description. I think it’s safe to say that most people shy away from conflict—they can do without the stress, thank you very much. Some of us, on the other hand, thrive on it. For me, there’s never a dull moment at work, which consists of heading up The Markaz, a Middle Eastern cultural center that brings together diverse groups that have experienced conflict for decades, even centuries—among them Israelis and Palestinians, Turks and Armenians, and so forth. My comfort with conflict has everything to do with creative and critical thinking. If we don’t tackle the challenging issues before us, what is there left to discuss? But dealing with conflict need not necessarily be painful. With the right tools, conflict can become our friend in the search for common ground. Unfortunately, while in high school or college we learn the rudiments of debate, rarely do we learn the importance of dialogue and deep listening.   Continue reading

On Power, Palestine and Standing Rock

By Jordan Elgrably  Everywhere we look, we see epic struggles between the people and the powerful—battles for freedom and justice on one side versus domination and exploitation on the other. We have a history of it in the west, beginning with the arrival of Columbus, the conquering of the Americas and the genocide of indigenous peoples. But conquest and domination isn’t found only in the west, for we saw it with the Muslim invasions of the Maghreb, the Levant and Persia in the 7th century; and we know that scarcely a time exists without warlords and plenipotentiaries, going back to the ancient Greeks, Romans and Genghis Khan. I’ve long wondered how an entire civilization can accommodate itself to the gradual destruction of another—how the brain chemistry works when your tribe, your group, has for decades or centuries busied itself colonizing and killing another people? To us today this seems barbaric, does it not? We must feel we have come so far from the likes of Alexander the Great, Aurelius, Genghis Khan or any number of other cruel conquerors, right up to the 19th and 20th-century colonizers which includes King Leopold II of Belgium, the British in India, the French in Algeria, the Japanese in China and on and on. But of course, conquest does not have its own narrow era, nor is it limited to one subset of genetics or another. Continue reading

"Guidelines"——a poem by Lisa Suhair Majaj

  This poem has never been more timely and is republished here by special arrangement with the author. Lisa Suhair Majaj (ليزا سهير مجاج) is a Palestinian-American poet, writer and scholar. Born to a Palestinian father and an American mother, she spent her childhood years in Jordan and attended college in Beirut, Lebanon before moving to the United States, where she lived for many years. Read more.    Continue reading

The 60 Million Who Voted for Trump

Perspective of a White Voter By Robert C. Cuddy The white men who have run this country from the get-go and the world for the past couple of millennia had a close call early this month when a woman almost became president of the United States of America. But the white men prevailed, and made it clear that in today’s America, women are expected to stay in their place; black people, people of Hispanic or Asian or Middle Eastern or American Indian descent are not welcome; Christianity is the only acceptable religion; and poor and powerless people belong poor and powerless. The opposite message almost got delivered. The white guys must be thinking, Whew, that was a close one! Continue reading

My Name is X: Six Post-Election Confessions

[Editor’s Note: the people interviewed for this feature asked that their last names and personal/professional details be withheld for reasons of privacy and in some cases, a concern for safety.]  In the wake of this particularly nasty election, it is more critical than ever to hear perspectives from those who were the direct targets of Trump’s rhetoric. I surveyed my friends. I spoke to both immigrants and native-born Americans, enthusiastic converts and those who were born into their religions. They shared their experiences growing up as “others” in America, and how these recent political developments have affected them. I was surprised to see the diversity in their opinions on the election results, and the varying extents to which they feared for the future. Some were terrified, while others were nonchalant and untroubled. Some of their feelings are heartbreaking; some of their opinions are unpopular and perhaps offensive. My conversations with them perfectly illustrate that no group of people is a monolith—there is a beautiful diversity that exists even within highly stereotyped groups. Here are their stories.    Continue reading

"Honky" Raises the Spectre of Racism in Us All

America has never been more heartbreaking than when it is at war with itself, divided down lines of color, of so-called “race”—the illusion that color or ethnicity really makes us different, whether black, white, Arab, Jew, this, that, “us and them.” DNA tests prove beyond a doubt that we are all more interconnected than anyone could ever guess, so that these seeming divisions can only be perpetuated by fear and stereotypes—indeed, by ignorance.  Continue reading